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22 Sep 2006

Too Deep Zone: K-P Duty

by Mike Tanier

The Michael Koenen experiment is officially over.

Koenen entered this season as the first player to be his team's primary kicker and punter since Frank Corral handled both duties for the Rams in 1981. Koenen has performed well as a punter, but a 2-of-8 early performance on field goals sealed his fate as a kicker. Morten Andersen was signed to kick the Falcons' field goals earlier in the week. Corral's historical footnote is safe.

Even in failure, the Koenen experiment was interesting. There was a brief era in pro football when K-Ps (kickers, not military potato peelers) roamed the earth. They represent one of the transitional fossils bridging the era between the days when position players kicked and the modern era of super-specialists. They were never all that common, but K-Ps were a regular part of football from the late 1950s through the early 1970s, with a few hanging on until the Me decade. The Koenen experiment gives us a great excuse to look back on the history of the double duty booter.

Early K-P History

Once upon a time, from the birth of the game through the 1930s, there was no such thing as a full-time kicker or punter. Football was an 11-on-11 game; substitutions only occurred when a player was too injured to continue. In those days, if you had a good leg and weren't about to keel over, you might be called upon to punt, kick a field goal, or score the extra point after your own touchdown.

Strategies were different then. Teams often punted on early downs, sometimes on first down if they were pinned deep in their own territory, so it helped if one of the backs could serve as a "triple threat" runner-passer-punter. Field goals were rare, and they were short. The longest field goals of the 1933 season traveled just 40 yards; most successful tries came from 15-25 yards away (the goal posts were at the front of the end zone back then). Field goal percentages hovered in the low 40's.While most teams had a position player who was also their best kicker or punter, it wasn't unusual for seven or eight players to punt or kick in a season, and box scores from the era often show three players attempting extra points in the same game.

As the game became more sophisticated, specialization increased. By the mid-1940s, teams generally used one punter, often the quarterback, and one or two players shared field goal duties. Even in those days, it was rare for a player to both punt and place kick. It was recognized back then that different skills were required for the jobs. Field goal kicking linebackers were about as common as two-way punter-kickers throughout the 40s and early 50s.

But there were a few K-Ps. Hall of Famer Bob Waterfield may have been the best double threat kicker-punter in history. He punted for the Rams for five years while leading the league in field goals three times and percentage twice as a place kicker. He was also one of the best quarterbacks in the league and, in his first few seasons, an outstanding defensive back. Of course, he wasn't a K-P in the Koenen sense; Waterfield was a do-it-all superstar. In 1948, the Redskins took away Sammy Baugh's punting responsibilities and gave them to halfback Dick Poillon. Poillon was already the team's place kicker, but in 1949 his kicking duties increased and his running duties disappeared. Poillon was a running back in name only. He was a full-time K-P, if only for a season.

The role of the kicker evolved slowly throughout the 1950s. If a position player was also a top field goal kicker, he would often hang around the roster as a pure kicker for a season or two, as Poillon did. By the middle of the decade, players like Fred Cone of the Packers might be listed as fullbacks, but they were really kickers who happened to carry the ball 15 times per year. Free substitution became legal in the late 1940s, and coaches slowly realized its potential. If the backup quarterback was a better punter than the starter, then the backup punted.

Field goals became more frequent, and 40+ yard attempts became more common. Teams that lacked a good kicker or punter were forced to acquire them. Sam Baker started his career as a fullback who kicked and punted, but the Redskins stopped putting him in the backfield after 1957. He was a full-time K-P. The Rams acquired Paige Cothren in 1957, and they didn't bother pretending that he was some backup lineman. He was a kicker, though tight end Del Shofner was the Rams punter.

By the time the AFL era began in 1960, most teams were willing to keep a player around whose main duty was to kick field goals, even if that player still technically had another job. But many owners wanted the most bang for their buck: if the new specialist was such a good kicker, why make the tight end punt? The Golden Age of the K-P was upon us.

The Brief K-P Era

The 1960s were the heyday of the K-P. Football was sophisticated enough to allow for specialists, but not so sophisticated that teams were ready for two full-time special teamers. From 1960 through 1969, there were 43 kicker-punter seasons in the NFL and AFL.

A handful of K-Ps like Baker and Danny Villanueva dominate the kicker-punter lists in that decade, but many other players pulled double duty for a season or two. Players like Mike Eischeid, Allen Green, and Dale Livingston had brief careers as two-way threats. Fred Cox, the longtime kicker for the Vikings, punted for a season. Roy Gerela, the kicker for the great Steelers teams of the 1970s, also punted as a rookie, as did Mark Mosely.

The Sporting News commented on the specialist kicker phenomenon in 1965: "They are paid anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 for four months' work, just for their ability in putting the ball out on the opponents' two-yard line, or booting a 45-yard field goal or getting 40-for-40 extra points." That article listed four K-Ps active in the league that year, plus several one-way specialists. It also unknowingly heralded the impending death of the K-P, noting that the Gogolak brothers were setting new field goal records in college using a soccer-style technique. The Gogolaks came from a soccer background, so they lacked the skills needed to punt (soccer players, remember, don't use their hands). Soccer-style kickers were soon setting accuracy records at the pro level, but those who tried to punt were rarely better than the average backup quarterback of the time. It became harder for the K-Ps to compete with these soccer-trained marksmen.

By the mid-1970s, there were only two kicker-punters in the NFL. Most teams kept a full-time kicker on the payroll. There were many full-time punters, but quarterbacks and other position players still punted. Even as late as 1976, quarterbacks like Danny White and Dan Pastorini also punted, as did position players like Bob Parsons and Pat McInally. All of the K-Ps either retired or started handling one chore exclusively.

Teams still turned to K-Ps in desperation if they couldn't fill both roles. The 1976 Bucs pressed punter Dave Green into service as a kicker-punter. He averaged just 39.3 yards per punt and converted a low 57 percent of his field goals after someone named Mirro Roder flunked an early-season tryout as a kicker. The 1979 Cardinals got through the year with punter Steve Little as a K-P. The Saints drafted Russell Erxleben in the first round in 1979 and clearly planned to use him as a K-P, but Erxleben bombed as a kicker. The Rams used Frank Corral as a kicker and punter for two years, then released him when they found two rookies who could do the jobs better and cheaper (check out the Football Outsiders FOX blog for more on Corral). By that time, Danny White was the only punter or kicker left in the NFL who also played a significant role at another position. Corral was the last of the dodos.

Until Koenen came along, that is.

Trading Points for Cap Space

What possessed the Falcons to turn back the clock 40 years and assign one player to two very different chores (three, if you count kickoffs)?

Koenen was the Falcons' punter as a rookie last season. He was very good, netting 42.3 yards per punt and recording 14 touchbacks on kickoffs. Todd Peterson was the team's kicker. He was 23-of-25 on field goals, but the 35-year-old's leg strength was failing him. When the Falcons needed a long field goal, like a 58-yarder that ended the first half against New England last October, they turned to Koenen.

Peterson became a free agent in the off-season. The Falcons were looking for someone cheaper, so they didn't make the veteran an offer. "Quite frankly, it saves some cap room that we can use in other spots," Jim Mora said, "But by no means do we want to sacrifice the chance to score three points for some more cap room." They signed Iowa State rookie Tony Yelk to a free agent contract and acquired former Cowboys practice squader Zac Derr. Derr got hurt before the team reached training camp, so the Falcons picked up Arena kicker Carlos Martinez to compete with Yelk. All the while, Mora considered the possibility of using Koenen in a dual role. "We are not sure if we want to place the burden of being the punter and the place kicker (on Koenen)," Mora said before the start of camp.

Other no-name kickers earned tryouts with the Falcons, but E.J. Cochrane and Seth Marler didn't distinguish themselves. Mora hired kicking coach Steve Hoffman to develop his young legs. The Falcons entered camp with Koenen, Yelk, and Miro Kesic at kicker. Koenen handled most of the kicking in the first exhibition game, nailing four field goals, including a 50-yarder. Yelk converted one extra point. Koenen kicked a 51-yarder in the next preseason game. Yelk strained his quadriceps during a kickoff. Kesic never got a serious chance. The competition was over. Yelk was relegated to the practice squad. Koenen would be the first K-P in 25 years. "There wasn't as much hand-wringing as you would think," Mora said of the decision. "And that's a credit to Michael."

The Falcons were clearly aware of the risks. An injury to Koenen would cripple their entire kicking game; even with Yelk on the practice squad, the Falcons risked losing a game if Koenen got hurt early. Mora and his staff also knew there was the risk of a psychological collapse, but Koenen seemed emotionally prepared for both roles. "You just do what you have to do," he said after a wobbly effort in the opener. "You just say, 'all right,' then you go out and swing your leg."

But Koenen clearly wasn't ready for both jobs. Mora stood by his decision to experiment with Koenen, and he suggested that Koenen might get another chance to be a full-time kicker. Koenen's missed field goals didn't hurt the 2-0 Falcons, and he'll be called upon again this season when the Falcons attempt a 50-yard field goal. In the end, Mora made good on his promise to choose points over cap space. With the Falcons looking like contenders, he stopped messing around and brought in Andersen. Koenen can now concentrate on what he does best: punting and booming kickoffs.

The Best Ever

We close this week with the five greatest K-Ps in pro football history, not counting all-purpose Hall of Famers like Waterfield. Koenen isn't likely to make this list at this point, but you never know: all he has to do is bounce back and have two or three good seasons, and he can join these not-quite immortals.

5) Dennis Partee: Partee, an 11th round draft pick by the Chargers in 1968, punted and kicked for them from 1968 through 1972. He punted until 1975 and was used as an extra point specialist in 1973 and 1974 when the team broke in Ray Wersching.

Partee scored 106 points in 1968 and led the league in gross average in 1969. He is best known for a) a game-winning 45-yard field goal against the Cardinals on Monday Night Football in 1971, and b) a lengthy antitrust lawsuit against the Chargers involving the World Football League's efforts to lure him away from the NFL.

4) Danny Villanueva: A standout for the New Mexico State team that won the 1959 Sun Bowl, Villanueva was a K-P for the Rams from 1961-64 and for the Cowboys from 1965 through 1967. He still holds the Rams' club records for punting in a single season and in a career. As a kicker, he scored 107 points for the 1966 Cowboys to finish second in the league in scoring.

After retiring in 1967, Villanueva became a very successful Spanish-language broadcaster and was one of the founders of Univision and Telemundo.

3) Sam Baker: Baker left the University of Oregon as the school's all-time rushing leader, but weight problems and a taste for the nightlife nearly ended his NFL career after one season. He spent two seasons in Canada, then tried to make the Redskins as a fullback in 1956. The Redskins were loaded in the backfield, so Baker spent extra time practicing his placekicking. After kicking four field goals in a preseason game, Baker earned a new role. When he set a Redskins record with a 49-yard field goal, The Sporting News called him "the National Football League's latest place-kicking sensation."

Baker handled K-P duty for the Redskins, Browns, Cowboys and Eagles from 1956 through 1968 and kicked for the Eagles in 1969. He led the league in punt average in 1958, in field goal percentage in 1966, and in field goals in 1956.

2) Don Chandler: Chandler was the Giants punter from 1956 through 1961, when Pat Summerall was their kicker. He led the league in gross average in 1957. When Summerall retired, Chandler became a PK and excelled, scoring over 100 points for the Giants in 1962 and 1963, leading the league in field goal percentage in 1962, and averaging 44.9 yards per punt in 1963.

After the 1964 season, Chandler asked the Giants if he could be a part-time football player; he wanted to devote more attention to his insurance business. The Giants balked at this request and traded him to Green Bay, where he kicked for three more years and punted for two more. The Giants anointed rookie quarterback Bob Timberlake as their new field goal kicker. He would go on to one of the worst kicking seasons in pro football history (which we wrote about this summer).

1) Don Cockroft: The heir to Lou Groza in Cleveland, Brown was the last long-term K-P in NFL history, as opposed to guys like Corral who took over the job for a year or two. Cockroft was the Browns' kicker and punter from 1968 through 1976, then hung on as a kicker until 1980. He earned All Pro notice as a punter when he averaged 43.2 yards per attempt in 1972 and led the league in field goal percentage three times.

Cockroft is most famous in Cleveland as the kicker who missed an extra point and two field goals in the Browns' 14-12 playoff loss to the Raiders in 1980. Cockroft was nursing numerous injuries and was having a hard time kicking on one of the coldest days in history, but he had a chance to redeem himself when the Browns drove into Raiders territory. As the clock wound down, Cockroft told quarterback Brian Sipe to get the ball to the right hashmark. Coach Sam Rutigliano called a play called "Red Right 88" and told Sipe (according to Cockroft in a magazine interview): "if no one is open, throw the ball into Lake Erie." Instead, Sipe tried to thread a pass to Ozzie Newsome in the end zone which the Raiders intercepted. It was the last game of Cockroft's career.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 22 Sep 2006

62 comments, Last at 02 Feb 2007, 3:48pm by aron atteh koranteng

Comments

1
by Adam Howarth (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 10:52am

Mike, what do you think caused Koenen's sudden downfall in week 2. The Falcons were clearly confident by the end of the preseason that they had their man and now so suddenly he sucks. Is it overuse from kicking off, punting and kicking FGs (I doubt this)? Or was he never that good at FGs to begin with?

2
by dryheat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 11:05am

Also, let's not forget QB/P Tom Tupa, although by the time he was punting, he was no longer a starting quarterback.

3
by Josh (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 11:08am

It always bothers me when the kicker is not the emergency punter, and vice versa. I understand that kicking and punting are different, but they're more similar to each other than they are to playing LB. Yet Simoneau kicked when Akers was hurt, a couple years ago Kordell Stewart punted for the Ravens when the punter was hurt. Kickers and punters should just spend a little time each week practicing the other's job, there's no reason why they shouldn't be the emergency replacement for each other.

4
by Travis (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 11:21am

Jeff Feagles was (is?) the Giants' emergency kicker, but missed a 3rd quarter, game-tying 29-yarder in his only career attempt in 2003.

Craig Hentrich (who I believe was a K-P at Notre Dame) has had some success as an long/emergency kicker in the NFL, most notably in the Titans' season opener in 2003.

5
by calig23 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 11:30am

Re:#3

Maybe there is a fear of a greater chance of losing both to injury.

6
by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 11:40am

Kordell Stewart was a better punter than quarterback. Of course, Kordell Stewart was a better just about everything than quarterback.

7
by SOW (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 11:41am

Re:5

Didn't Hentrich take all long attempts for the Titans for a few years and didn't he take FG attempts in the playoffs in the previous season? I vaguely recall listening to their playoff game (final reg season game?) against the Raiders on preseason replay on the radio.

SOW

8
by Travis (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 11:49am

Re: 7

Hentrich kicked a second-half extra point against the Raiders in 2002 after Joe Nedney injured his knee making a tackle on a kickoff, but attempted no field goals.

9
by Independent George (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 12:01pm

Randall Cunningham as a fine, fine punter.

10
by Independent George (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 12:11pm

er, Randall Cunningham was a fine, fine punter.

11
by GMR (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 12:30pm

It is interesting to note that most CFL teams still employ K-Ps, and the league's all-time leading scorer, Lui Passaglia, was a K-P (he's also the second all-time punt leader).

12
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 12:39pm

I wonder why the Falcons picked up Morten Anderson? I know he's been reliable, but he's about ten thousand years old. Martin Grammatica is available, much younger, and in spite of his struggles with TB a couple of years ago, looked good enough with the Pats this preseason to still be an NFL kicker. In fact, if they hadn't drafted Gostkowski, Grammatica performed well enough that he would have made the team.

13
by Travis (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 12:41pm

Another reason why K-Ps might have died out in the late 1970's was the increased roster size, allowing for more specialists. From 1964-73, rosters were limited to 40 players (hence the Vikings' old "40 for 60" motto), but increased to 47 in 1974 (maybe an effect of the player strike?). The active roster limit went to 43 in 1975-77, 45 in 1978-81, 49 in 1982-1984, and has been at (essentially) 45 since.

14
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 12:48pm

When Chris Gardocki was drafted out of Clemson, there was some speculation the Bears would use him as a K-P, because he had done both well in college. It didn't work out, but he's a punter that should be a good emergency kicker.

15
by Tighthead (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 12:55pm

Jason Hanson was also touted as a "dual threat" out of WSU back in the day.

16
by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 1:04pm

Even as late as 1976, quarterbacks like Danny White and Dan Pastorini also punted

Both Kordell Stewart and Randall Cunningham punted fairly regularly in recent times.

17
by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 1:05pm

Travis Dorsch did both at Purdue and was drafted by Cincinnati but he was just there for FGs and wasn't very good at it.

18
by senser81 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 1:55pm

I was surprised to see no mention of Don Chandler in the article, but I was somewhat relieved to see Chandler's name in the best ever rankings. Even more startling is the fact that the greatest K-P in history gets no mention in either the article or the top 5 listing (Tommy Davis of the 49ers).

19
by PackMan (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 1:56pm

3.
I totally agree. I don't see how a kicker can't punt at LEAST 30-35 yards in an emergency, and a punter can't be about 70% from 30 yds or so. I remember when Akers went out a few years back, and I wondered why the punter couldn't at least be a reliable PAT kicker.

20
by lesalse (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 2:00pm

MJK: It is Morten Andersen, not Anderson.

Yep, as a fellow dane I just i'd just set the record straight:-)

Seriously, Morten is only about 70 points from being the highest scoring player in NFL history. Guess that means I now have to root for the Falcons.

21
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 2:05pm

in an emergency, and a punter can’t be about 70% from 30 yds or so.

Wait, I can understand placekickers punting (although dropping a snap that they're not used to holding would be bad) but why would a punter be an accurate field goal kicker? They're not aiming directly for anything when they punt.

22
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 2:14pm

Don Chandler, after he left the Giants, is also responsible for the modern goalposts. He kicked a field goal, ruled good, in a gmae against the Colts that knocked Baltimore out of the playoffs and put Green Bay on the raod to SB I.

Most analyses of the tapes agree that the refs blew the call on the field, but given that it was a judgment call, the play was left standing. After the season, the league mandated that all goalposts be set at their current height, which was known for some time as "the Chandler extensions."

23
by ABW (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 2:16pm

If they are trying to drop a coffin corner punt they are aiming for something. I'd hope that a punter could be able to control at least somewhat the direction the kick goes.

24
by DGL (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 2:21pm

#16: Actually, Kordell Stewart punted 6 times in his 11-year NFL career. Five of those came with the Ravens in 2004, when the Ravens punted 97 times. Not exactly "fairly regularly".

Cunningham punted 20 times in his 16-year career. In 1997 he punted 8 times out of 81 total punts by his team; in 1989 he punted 6 times out of 87 total punts by his team. I wouldn't call that "fairly regularly" either.

25
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 2:42pm

If they are trying to drop a coffin corner punt they are aiming for something.

They're not aiming directly for something. Big difference.

It's kindof the difference between making a basket in basketball and throwing a strike in baseball. Two totally different aiming processes.

26
by MikeT (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 2:59pm

Tommy Davis: absolutely a great one. Should have been listed.

27
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 3:26pm

Re 20 (lesalse)

Actually, it means you should root AGAINST the Falcon's red zone offense, so they end up kicking a lot of FG's.

28
by PackMan (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 3:27pm

25.
So they couldn't aim in the general direction of the goalpost? It seems most punters punt fairly straight, or could if they needed to, also on a field goal, they are not kicking a stationary object which should help accuracy.
I think there would be good money in being above average at both.

29
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 3:51pm

He kicked a field goal, ruled good, in a gmae against the Colts that knocked Baltimore out of the playoffs and put Green Bay on the raod to SB I.

one year too early--Chandler's miss-called-good was at the end of the 1965 season. Weren't no SB yet

(OK, nitpicky...)

30
by JasonK (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 3:51pm

Wow, 28 posts and so far nobody has hypothesized how ROBO-PUNTER would perform if forced to fill in for the placekicker? You people are slipping.

31
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 4:07pm

Dude, ROBO-PUNTER can't kick field goals. All of his field goal attempts would land at the 1.

32
by krugerindustrialsmoothing (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 5:00pm

30 Posts till Robo-Punter gets a mention? wow, I had the over under pegged at 5. An omen for the Balt-Cle tilt perhaps?

33
by Joon (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 5:08pm

#30: my thoughts exactly. but pat is right. what we need is the newer model, ROBO-K-P.

34
by Mekias (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 5:42pm

There's no doubt that Koenen's accuracy in place-kicking is inconsistent but I think there was another problem in the Tampa Bay game.

He has a fairly low trajectory on his kicks because he's used to kicking off and practicing long field goals. This allowed him to be blocked once in Carolina and also on his first attempt against Tampa Bay. I think he tried to correct this low trajectory on the fly and he ended up starting to pull the ball to the left. Once that got into his head, it's like a golf swing that goes wrong. You almost have to go back to basics and he wasn't able to get back to his normal kicking stroke.

I think Koenen could hold all 3 kicking jobs sometime in the future and it's clear that Mora does as well. I think that's why they chose one of the most experienced guys available. Part of his job is going to be working with Koenen on the mental part of kicking.

35
by Sundown (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 8:22pm

I'd think any kicker with a soccer background would be fairly comfortable with the punting motion. (Goalies punt the ball all the time and players kick the ball all sorts of ways during a match.) Plus, catching a long snap seems easier than getting used to a holder, figuring out where to place your plant foot, worrying about the height of the kick, etc.

I recall an article a few years back, detailing a typical day during training camp for a punter. While everybody else was working their butts off in the heat, then watching several hours of film, he did 50 punts, rode the stationary bike for a half hour, then was done for the day. That certainly leaves plenty of time to work on his kicking, should he want to do double-duty.

36
by Joe Pisarcik Magnet (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 8:33pm

This is the type of article that I come here for. Thanks, Mike.

A couple of questions on the kicking game: which teams have their punters kickoff and why are punters more effective at that than placekicking? When did longsnappers become specialized? When I was a kid (70's-early 80's), it was usually the center or his backup that snapped on kicks, IIRC.

37
by Vern (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 8:33pm

Josh Miller P from the Patriots was on ESPN Boston radio this week and was asked about it. He said flat out it was too much wear and tear on the leg. They practice an enormous number of punts every day, and to add place kicks to that would just be too much. And he added, if you cut down practices, then you cut down accuracy, timing etc.

He didn't comment on emergency duty kicks.

38
by Vern (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 8:37pm

To add a bit more, I think it was something like 50 kicks a day each (50 punts, 50 FG attempts) in practice. Miller is also the Pats holder. I know some teams use a QB as the holder, but using the Punter makes more sense to me, since now your long snapper and the guy catching the ball from the long snapper are always the same "pitcher catcher" combo, and can work on this constantly at practice w/o sacrificing QB reps to special teams reps.

39
by PerlStalker (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 9:45pm

I've always liked having a QB holding. It leads to all sorts of play faking goodness if the coach wants to go that route. To my knowledge, Denver is the only team that has their starting QB holding on kicks.

Also, Jason Elam tried to convince Shanahan to let him try out for the punting job last year. He punted in College and claims that punting is still part of his daily work out.

40
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 10:14pm

Although its not the same, Raven's punter Sam Koch handles kickoffs and Stover does the FGs. This way the 'aiming for something' problem that punters have is pretty much moot. I'm not sure if Koch would come in for an extra long figgie, but I guess its possible.
And so far his kickoffs haven't been that impressive, ussually decent distance but a very low trajectory.

41
by miles archer (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 10:41pm

Damn, damn, damn. Koenen is my backup kicker on my fantasy team and it's my primary kicker's bye week. We have a wacky system where FA pickups must be done by 5pm on Friday so the commish can approve them. Argggg! I picked up K as my backup as I figured that any kicker in a dome was going to be ok.

Why couldn't you you guys published this story on Thurs?

42
by Joe Pisarcik Magnet (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 12:29am

The '94 Giants split their kicking between David Treadwell and Brad Daluiso (who punted in a previous life in Denver). It also looks like he was a kickoff specialist in Buffalo in '91.

43
by emcee fleshy (atl/sd) (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 1:40am

41) Dude got the Sombrero last week. And you didn't pick up another K on Tuesday?

You are a disgrace to fantasy football. . . which is kind of saying something.

44
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 6:12am

Re #36: This is the type of article that I come here for. Thanks, Mike.

A couple of questions on the kicking game: which teams have their punters kickoff and why are punters more effective at that than placekicking?

Denver has their punter handle kickoffs, too. I speculate that punters are better at kickoffs than placekicks because kickoffs are simply an excercise in power- hit the ball as hard as you can- with little concern given to accuracy.

Re #39: I’ve always liked having a QB holding. It leads to all sorts of play faking goodness if the coach wants to go that route. To my knowledge, Denver is the only team that has their starting QB holding on kicks.

Also, Jason Elam tried to convince Shanahan to let him try out for the punting job last year. He punted in College and claims that punting is still part of his daily work out.

Plummer absolutely, positively *is* the last starting QB that handles holding duties in the NFL. Odds are good that in a couple of years from now when he's gone to another team, a good trivia question will be "who was the last starting NFL QB to hold for placekicks?"

I never realized QB-holders were dying out (I assumed that since Denver still had one, other teams did, too). The theory behind it is that it takes practice time to get in a rhythm, and backup QBs have more free-time to practice holding than starting QBs. Apparently Plummer just has phenominal hand-eye coordination and makes a fantastic holder even with very little practice.

Also, while Elam really does want to do some punting (and I'd love to see him do it, just for the novelty of it), odds are against it ever happening. The reason Denver brought in a kickoff specialist was to give Elam's leg a rest (and his kicking accuracy drastically improved the first season he didn't have to handle kickoffs, too). I doubt they'd turn around and start overworking him again now.

45
by sam_acw (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 6:18am

There have been invitations made to rugby players to come to NFL camps and sooner or later one will give it a real go.
I remember Tim Stimpson was offerred a try out a few years ago as he visited one of the teams and was able to punt 50+ yards regularly and was an accurate kicker. He also would have decent speed and tackling ability.
Gavin Hastings kicked succesfully for the Claymores one year and said that the mechanics were similar but more pressured (for placekicking) as you had less time

46
by blahblahfalcons (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 9:42am

34: exactly. it's like he was kicking line-drives. he also takes a long time between the snap and the hold to actually BEGIN the process of kicking. he just doesnt look like a kicker out there.

47
by dryheat (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 10:35am

never realized QB-holders were dying out (I assumed that since Denver still had one, other teams did, too). The theory behind it is that it takes practice time to get in a rhythm, and backup QBs have more free-time to practice holding than starting QBs.

It is precisely for that reason that most holders now are punters. They spend all day with the kickers, and don't have to worry about the game plan or running the scout team. I don't think there's more than a handful of teams that even use a backup QB anymore.

48
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 11:46am

I don’t think there’s more than a handful of teams that even use a backup QB anymore.

Non-punter holders in the NFL:

Saints: Jaime Martin
Falcons: Matt Schaub (of course, the Falcons had no punter on their roster)
Rams: Dane Looker (WR)
Broncos: Jake Plummer
Cowboys: Tony Romo

49
by Jamie T. (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 1:56pm

Hentrich History:

In 2003, after Nedney went down early in the opener and was lost for the year, Hentrich kicked three FGs in the game. He was successful in all three attempts.

Gary Anderson was brought in to do FGs, but Craig was still the official "long" FG kicker. He didn't attempt many more FGs that year, but was the kickoff kicker, which had been Nedney's job previously.

The next year, Nendney got hurt again in the preseason and was lost for the year... again. Gary was brought back to do FGs, but the same arrangement with Hentrich was brought over from the previous year.

Craig has also done a bit of FG kicking for Green Bay. He's 8 for 15 lifetime in FG tries, five of those misses coming in 50yrds plus attempts, and 6 for 6 in Xps. Craig makes an excellent backup FG kicker, but suffers with his punts if he's forced to kick the whole season, as he did for the Titans in 2003-04 when he was the kickoff man.

50
by Levente, Hungary (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 4:50pm

Roethlisberger also punted 2 last year. Although at least one of these was sort of trick play, lined up as if they were going for the 1st down, then boomed it.

http://www.nfl.com/players/playerpage/493043

51
by PerlStalker (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 7:19pm

Denver used their backup QB for a long time until Maddox left and the punter at the time started holding. It wasn't their last punter was cut that Plummer started to hold. It's all a matter of who the kicker is most comfortable with. However, I am definitely in favor of QBs holding.

52
by PerlStalker (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 7:30pm

It wasn’t their last punter was cut
That should be "It was when their last punter was cut". Sheesh

53
by Steve Greenwell (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 7:54pm

Rams: Dane Looker (WR)

Errr, a wide receiver is holding for the Rams? That seems odd, just from casual observation. Is he an ex-QB a la Seneca Wallace or something like that?

54
by PackMan (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 9:16pm

53.
I always wondered why more teams didn't use an ex-QB WR like Randle-el or Matt Jones as the holder, on a fake, he could run or throw. It seems like that would be ideal, even if his non-holding skills would only be used once or twice a year, you would be glad he spent that extra time everyday at practice when you win that game with a trick 2 pt conversion rather than kicking the PAT.

55
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 9:23pm

Re: 53

Not that I'm aware of. Ricky Proehl and Steve Largent also were holders; oddly, all three are white.

56
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 9:33pm

Drew Bennett, another white WR, has been the holder for Hentrich's FG attempts.

57
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 09/23/2006 - 9:36pm

I fianlly found a black WR-holder; Kevin Dyson held for a desperation Hentrich 60-yard FG on the last play against Buffalo in 2000.

58
by CHM III (not verified) :: Sun, 09/24/2006 - 11:46am

RE #45. This would be a beautiful thing. Most (all?) rugby fullbacks both punt (while scrambling - a plus with a bad snap) and kick (without a tee or holder) well, and could even drop-kick if that were ever necessary. Here in the US they usually start life as soccer players, then grow into their manhood and start playing rugby. They could also lay the hits like any one else on the cover teams, so the potential for some returner getting absolutely flattened by the K or P would become real.

59
by Andy (not verified) :: Mon, 09/25/2006 - 5:18pm

Whilst at Southern Miss, Ray Guy (who is argueably the greatest punter of all time) also attempted field goals and was generally pretty sucessful. I remember hearing that he got at least one 60 yarder, maybe against Ole Miss. He was also the emergancy QB whilst with the Raiders.

60
by Jimbo (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 12:20pm

Wouldn't Paul Hornung be among the best of all time in this category?

61
by empty13 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/26/2006 - 3:33pm

one andersen kick was blocked mon nite. koenen got a punt blocked. he could theoretically not be a falcon much longer...

62
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